Seasoning your own wood
If you are planning to season wood yourself, you will need a suitable log store located outside in a location that allows free flow of air around and through the woodpile to help season the wood. Ideally your log store will have a roof to keep the rain off, but you could simply put a tarpaulin over the woodpile providing it is secured (or it will probably end up in your neighbours garden if it gets windy). You will also want to keep the logs off the ground, if you don’t have a purpose built log store, then you could use pallets to stack it on.
If you are stacking your log store with freshly cut logs you should ensure that they are split into suitable sized pieces – 200 – 300mm long and 50 – 150mm in diameter (any fully round logs should be split in half so that they dry out more easily). Splitting larger logs down will allow the middle of the log to dry out and ensure that they season quicker than when left whole as moisture can evaporate along the length of the exposed wood rather than just from the ends.
How long will it take? Well there are a lot of variables at play, the type of wood, how recently it was felled, what its current water content is etc. What you are looking to achieve is moisture content of less than 20%. In some cases this could take a year or as much as 3 years. The only accurate way of knowing the moisture content is to buy a moisture meter.
Buying seasoned logs
Many suppliers sell seasoned logs but you need to be clear that unless they state the moisture content is below 20% you will still need to store these until they are dry enough to burn. If you don’t have a moisture meter there are a few things you can do to assess how seasoned the wood is.
- Examine the ends of the logs, with seasoned wood you should see small cracks in the end grain of the timber, these are caused when the ends dry out
- Tap 2 logs together, you should hear a hollow sound if seasoned, a dull sound indicates a high water content.
- Very well seasoned logs may start to lose their original colour and start to go a grey colour.